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ZERO TOLERANCE TO INDISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS: RE-DRAWING THE LINE

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Education secretary Ruth Kelly today underlined her support for...
Education secretary Ruth Kelly today underlined her support for

schools to take a zero tolerance approach in tackling classroom

disruption caused by a minority of pupils.

Mrs Kelly said that real progress had been made in tackling serious

bad behaviour in schools, with permanent exclusions 25% lower than

1997, and pupil behaviour good in most schools most of the time.

However, a focus was also needed on the disruptive behaviour by a

minority of pupils that can prevent teachers from teaching and pupils

from learning.

A minority of schools also required additional support in rigorously

enforcing clear, consistent discipline codes that were understood and

supported by pupils and parents. And while parents had a right to

expect their child to learn in a safe, undisturbed environment, they

also had a responsibility to support schools in tackling any

misbehaviour from their child.

She said that getting behaviour right in schools must be founded on

an approach which made it clear that there are boundaries and that

crossing those boundaries have consequences - a zero tolerance

approach, underpinned by:

* local authority directors to review schools where behaviour is

rated as unsatisfactory by Ofsted, and to develop action plans to

revamp their behaviour policies;

* Ofsted follow-up visits to every school where behaviour is rated as

unsatisfactory within 12 months to check on progress and ensure that

improvement is underway;

* a new drive by local authorities to use Parenting Orders to

reinforce parents' responsibility for dealing with their child's bad

behaviour;

* schools pooling expertise in new Foundation Partnerships, with

resources devolved to their control from the local authority, to

enable them to buy shared in-school or off-site support to remove

disruptive pupils from classrooms and nip their behaviour problems in

the bud.

Addressing an audience of headteachers in Blackpool, she said:

'Behaviour is good in most schools most of the time. Often schools

are the most secure and stable environment in the communities they

serve. But any poor behaviour is too much and should not be

tolerated. We need to re-draw the line on what is acceptable.

'Good schools already have a strong school ethos and a policy on

behaviour that's respected by the whole school community because it's

clear, consistent and rigorously applied. This approach must be in

every school with any level of bad behaviour dealt with promptly and

appropriately.

'Equally, pupils who lack respect for themselves, respect for their

classmates, and respect for their teachers need to be made to take

responsibility for their own actions.

'Parents too must support the school's behaviour policy and not

automatically assume, when their child is punished, that their child

must be in the right and the school in the wrong. Where parents do

not take responsibility for their child's unruly behaviour, then it

is right that action is taken to ensure that they do, through

Parenting Orders administered by the courts.

'Every pupil and every teacher has the right to expect a safe, secure

and orderly classroom, so that teaching and learning can flourish.'

Mrs Kelly set out her ambition to see every secondary school being

part of a partnership to manage pupil behaviour by September 2007. In

return, new admissions protocols for hard to place pupils - which are

to be agreed by September this year for vulnerable pupil groups such

as looked-after children - need not apply to excluded pupils until

such time as schools have agreed arrangements with LEAs for

strengthening the support available to schools to deal with

disruptive pupils. However she said that she remained prepared to

consider legislation to ensure that admissions protocols are in place

everywhere, once the support infrastructure is in place.

NOTES

This press notice applies to England.

1. The government is investing some£220m per year through the

Excellence in Cities initiative and Behaviour Improvement Programme,

delivering:

* a major expansion of specialist Pupil Referral Units from 309 in

1997 to 452 today, providing almost double the number of places from

7,000 to 13,000 where excluded pupils have their bad behaviour

tackled and continue their education;

* 1,000 Learning Support Units, to help schools remove disruptive

pupils from classrooms early and nip challenging behaviour in the

bud;

* 10,000 learning mentors to work intensively with individual pupils

to overcome behavioural problems in schools;

* 17,000 children at risk of exclusion receiving intensive support

from more than 100 specialist Behaviour Education Support Teams;

* 370 police officers under the Safer Schools Partnership working

with pupils, teachers and the wider community to keep children in

school and out of trouble.

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